Silicone has been around for a while; however, as technology advances, so do the uses for this material. Let’s find out more about this material, its uses, and its environmental credentials.
What is silicone?
Despite what some people think, silicone and silicon are different. Silicon is a chemical element with the atomic number 14 and symbol Si, whereas silicone is a human-made synthetic polymer whereby sand is mixed with carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. The result is a pliable material that can withstand extreme temperature. The base element of silicone – the sand or silica – is where the name comes from.
What can silicone do?
There are some fun and useful aspects to silicone polymers; for example, no ink marks or staining can adhere to a silicone surface. It is intrinsically flame retardant and will not support the growth of microbiological life. Combined with its ability to withstand extreme temperatures without breaking down, its ability to hold its shape and flexibility makes it suitable for use in many industries; for example, silicone hose manufacturers can produce products capable of transporting hot fluids without any issues whereas standard hoses would potentially expand or get hot.
In fact, silicone hose manufacturers can create hoses suitable for use in many diverse industries, from agriculture to automotive and pharmaceutical to marine. Silicone is a performance fabric without any need for additional chemicals and is naturally BPA-free.
Is silicone environmentally friendly?
Silicone has a big advantage: it is ‘green’, as it is made entirely from natural elements. It is more concerning that silicone is not biodegradable; however, it can be recycled with the right facilities. Whilst it is made from a finite natural resource (sand), the rock that sand comes from – quartz – is one of the most abundant elements in the crust of the earth.
The biggest environmental advantage of using silicone is its ability to withstand use. It can be reused many times, which makes it a safe alternative to single-use products. As an example, it is perfect for reusable drinking straws.
A study in 2012 found that the use of silicone saved, on average, nine times the volume of greenhouse gases required to manufacture the polymer.
Silicone can be used to create products that are more efficient and productive than ever before.